The Ohio General Assembly is considering important legislation relating to Joint Economic Development Districts (JEDDs) and Joint Economic Development Zones (JEDZs).

These economic tools have enabled many communities throughout Ohio to avoid annexation battles over developing property. JEDDs and JEDZs ensure collaboration in economic development by engaging municipal, township and business leaders and property owners to promote growth. However, JEDDs and JEDZs have sparked several controversies in recent months.

In Scioto Township, for example, a state prison facility vocally opposed the creation of a JEDD. Prison leaders argued that it was improper to levy an unvoted JEDD income tax shortly after area voters rejected a fire levy for similar services. Residents of Liberty Township, meanwhile, claimed that it was unfair to create a JEDZ on their property that would impose an income tax levied by the city of Bexley, which is located 24 miles away from the proposed zone. And in Perry Township, a business owner called a proposed JEDZ a “money grab” by the township that would not serve economic development purposes.

House Bill 289 appears to be a response to these controversies. Sponsored by Rep. Kirk Schuring of Canton, the bill would require written consent of each property owner and lessee in territory proposed to be included within a JEDD or JEDZ. The bill also includes a contiguity requirement for territory within a newly created JEDD or JEDZ, ensuring that the involved municipalities and townships are invested in area development. Finally, House Bill 289 specifies that municipal income tax revenue generated by a newly created JEDD or JEDZ must be used for economic development purposes.

The second piece of legislation, House Bill 358, would impose a 90-day moratorium on the creation or amendment of JEDDs and JEDZs.

Given the importance of JEDDs and JEDZs to growing areas throughout Ohio, these bills may stir up valuable discussion in the economic development community. House Bills 289 and 358 have been assigned to the House State and Local Government Committee. Stay tuned to DevelopOhio for more details as these bills move through the legislative process.

Colin Kalvas